Letter: How about performance-based budgeting?

If you didn’t attend last Thursday evening’s performance of Rappahannock County Elementary School’s band and chorus program, you really missed something truly special.

Not only did students in the fifth through seventh grades show excitement in executing their musical selections, all of which gave examples of range, diversity and style of music, they did so with beauty and skill. The improvement in student abilities displayed at this concert compared to the fall concert was marked. This collaborative event also included a number of high school students assisting with stage rearrangement between sets.

The evening began with several selections from the fifth grade beginning band under the direction of Rachel Siegfried. Variations of “Southern Roses” and “Mexican Jumping Bean” were played, which illustrated the diversity of style for one piece of music. “Aura Lee” and “Frere Jacques” followed, both done equally well. A bit of impromptu humor with Alivia getting up and begging Ms. Siegfried to let them play the “scary” version of “Hot Cross Buns” in minor key instead of major key introduced the last selection illustrating a “darker” version of the song.

The Jazz Band then rocked the auditorium with Mike Sweeney’s “Moanin’ ” and George Vincent’s “Fat Burger.”

Traci Dippert, RCES music teacher, had her all-girl chorus sing their hearts out with selections including “Dance for the Nations,” “One Tin Soldier,” “Rhythm of Life” and “The Drunken Sailor.” Lots of hard work by these students went into getting the tone, the timing and the vibrancy of their message out to the packed audience through rounds, collective voices and shared hugs during their performance. The Beatles classic, “Let it Be,” conjured up old memories with the group’s terrific interpretation with Wynnie strumming her guitar and singing solo at the beginning and end of the medley.

Winding up the evening was the sixth- and seventh-grade band. You could feel the presence of dinosaurs stomping the earth through their presentation of “A Prehistoric Suite” by Paul Jennings. “The Golden Eagle March” was rousing and inspirational but my absolute favorite was the beautifully presented traditional Scottish tune “Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon.”

As I sat in the audience with students, parents, grandparents and teachers from both schools, as well as many friends and members of the school board, I couldn’t help but think about the front-page headline of last week’s Rappahannock News, “School budget approved, minus $145K.” Below that was an article about covering the expenses for our roads and rescue services and a shelter for stray cats.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a devoted animal lover. The most adorable corgi ever and four terrific cats will attest to that fact. But, a superb, artistic presentation by Rappahannock students led by two of the approximately 160-member staff who obviously go above and beyond to help their proteges excel and not one county supervisor in attendance to witness this success! And they have such a significant impact on the budgetary needs of our educational system.

I know and like every one of these community leaders who give of themselves in service for our county. But, the fact is, these supervisors are able to withhold vital monies needed to barely adequately fund the most important enterprise in our county – the public schools. As trim as this year’s proposed budget was, their majority vote was to cut it even more.

Can you imagine what this school system could do and what successes would be realized by the students of our community that would ultimately benefit us all if we had the necessary, adequate funding for our public schools? It may be too late now to change this coming year’s budget, but I would challenge our supervisors to become more involved in the activities and events of our schools. That way they can witness, first hand, the constraints the Rappahannock County Public School system works under every day and the impact their decisions have in the shaping of our most important resource, Rappahannock’s children!

Frances Moore Krebser

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